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CNC tool-grinding machine manufacturer J. SCHNEEBERGER Maschinen AG wanted to find an automation solutions specialist that could control separate CNC and robot technologies using a common platform. The supplier would also have to provide worldwide support over the lifetime of the machines.

SCHNEEBERGER selected FANUC based on the company’s worldwide reputation, durable products and global support network. FANUC supplies SCHNEEBERGER with an optimal combination of 31i-B series CNC, PANEL iH Pro industrial PC, SCARA SR-12iA and LR Mate 200iD robots, and linear and torque motors. FANUC I/O Linki facilitates serial communications between CNC and robot.

SCHNEEBERGER precision tool grinders take advantage of a single control platform for both CNC and robot, with the industrial PC providing user-friendly data exchange. Furthermore, the use of FANUC motors has brought a clear improvement in tool-grinding quality and precision. Over the past year, adoption of the latest FANUC 31i-B CNC has introduced even greater diagnostics capabilities.

About J. SCHNEEBERGER Maschinen AG

Based in Roggwil, around 40km west of Zürich, Switzerland, SCHNEEBERGER is a family-owned manufacturer of CNC precision tool-grinding machines. Founded in 1923, the company has around 180 employees worldwide and customers in practically every developed country. SCHNEEBERGER’s dense network of service facilities local to its customers support the company’s activities in a plethora of industries, including automotive, aerospace and energy.

"Our CNC precision tool grinders need to meet a number of important criteria,” states Hartmut Rühl, Head of Software Development at SCHNEEBERGER. “Firstly, they must process hard cutting-tool materials such as carbide, HSS [high-speed steel] and ceramics. Our machines must also achieve ultra-high precision, in the micron range, while another prerequisite is ensuring optimal surface quality.” 

Around 30 years ago, SCHNEEBERGER began searching for an industrial control that was highly flexible, precise and dynamic, and able to interpolate at least five axes simultaneously. For communication with the operator, a user-friendly interface was also essential.

“Furthermore, worldwide availability was fundamental as our machines are exported globally,” says Rühl. “Ultimately we chose FANUC because they have a very good reputation and their products are highly reliable and durable. We also knew that FANUC’s global customer service network would ensure spare parts availability anytime, anywhere.”

The solution supplied to SCHNEEBERGER today is based on a FANUC 31i-B CNC with FANUC PANEL iH Pro industrial PC. Thanks to the use of FANUC I/O Linki, the CNC and FANUC robots communicate via a single control platform.

“For us, connection between the robot and CNC is a great advantage,” declares Antonio Grasso, Head of Electronic Development at SCHNEEBERGER. “It means that our users can monitor two completely different systems with one control. What’s more, our adoption of the latest 31-iB control means we now have a CNC with even better diagnostics capabilities, thus enhancing machine reliability.”

As another benefit, SCHNEEBERGER has been using FANUC linear and torque motors since the beginning of 2000. These motors help deliver the short, fast oscillating motion of SCHNEEBERGER machines as part of the tool-grinding process. According to Grasso, “this has brought a clear improvement in grinding quality and tool precision”.

Today, SCHNEEBERGER is a near-exclusive user of FANUC products: robots, CNCs and motors.

“FANUC has proven to be a very reliable and competent partner for us over the years,” concludes Rühl.